Middle East News
Two killed as Israel bombs Gaza smuggling tunnels (1st Lead)
Sep 30, 2009, 9:56 GMT
Tel Aviv / Gaza City - The Israeli air force bombed three weapons-smuggling tunnels in the southern Gaza Strip border overnight, killing two Palestinians and wounding six others, the Israeli military and Palestinian medical officials said Wednesday.
The triple airstrike in the town of Rafah, on the border with Egypt, came after militants launched two projectiles from Gaza at southern Israel late Tuesday, a military spokeswoman said.
Gaza medical officials said rescue workers pulled the bodies of the two Palestinian fatalities from the tunnels. Six others taken from the tunnels had been injured.
Witnesses said another airstrike was carried out against a group of militants trying to launch homemade rockets from northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia at southern Israel.
They said that the missile hit an empty area and the militants fled. No injuries were reported. The Israeli airstrikes came shortly after several homemade rockets were fired at Israel overnight.
The military spokeswoman said that since the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, which started at sunset Sunday and ended at sundown Monday, Gaza militants had launched three rockets and one mortar shell from the strip at southern Israel.
The spokeswoman said Israel held the radical Islamist Hamas movement, in de facto control of Gaza, responsible for maintaining a fragile, unwritten truce - which has largely held since the end of 22 days of deadly Israeli-Palestinian fighting in the coastal enclave in January.
Since the end of the Gaza war on January 18, Palestinian militants have fired some 250 rockets and mortar shells at southern Israel, the military said.
Israel has responded with airstrikes, mostly at smuggling tunnels in Rafah and at rocket launchers, to the sporadic rocket fire.
Some 1,400 Palestinians were killed in last winter's three-week Gaza offensive. Human rights groups say nearly two-thirds of the dead were non-combatants.
A UN fact-finding mission headed by respected South African judge Richard Goldstone has accused both Israel and Hamas of having committed war crimes during the Gaza war.